. . . for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light . . . (1 Cor 3:11-13).
Linda stood behind the podium. From my seat, I could see her eyes water. “Has it really been twenty-eight years?” She seemed to ask it more of herself than of those gathered at her retirement ceremony. Decades of conflicts and triumphs, of paperwork piles and project deadlines, of exhilarating new tasks and the lumbering routine of others blended into a half-forgotten dream.
After the framed certificate, the engraved plaque, and the punch and cookies in the foyer, life will move on. Younger employees will step into her varied roles, and the organization will continue with business as usual.
“I thought this day would never come.” She tried to smile. “But here it is.”
While Linda spoke, my mind drifted to the many times I’ve said, “I thought this day would never come”? How many important events passed before I knew they were close upon me? Birthdays, graduations, weddings, births, more weddings, more births. My life has moved almost seamlessly from sunrise to sunset, seasons to years, anticipating one milestone and then another. All the while I’ve been too busy to notice the calendar pages disappear like vapors in the wind.
I don’t often think about my final milestone. I still hope to enjoy many more graduations, weddings and births before I start thinking much about that particular day. Yet, when it comes, will the decades of my life also seem as a brief moment? The conflicts, the joys, the deadlines, the routines . . . I know life will move on without me.
When Linda received her plaque, I wondered what kind I will receive when I stand before the Great Cloud of Witnesses (see Hebrews 12:1). Will it be engraved with the names of those whom I have touched during my service for the Master? Or will it be an empty testimony of misplaced priorities during my earth-bound journey?
I just passed my 64th birthday. 64! Oh, how the years have flown. But as I draw nearer to my final birthday, whenever that will be, those questions whisper from the corners of my thoughts with increasing urgency. Life really is shorter than I realize, and everything I now consider so important -- money, popularity, passions, career -- will smolder on that day like charred timbers after a house fire.
When the day I thought would never come finally arrives, I want to hear more than pleasant words at a ceremony. I want to enjoy more than punch and cookies in the foyer. I want to hear from the men and women standing with me before His throne, “Thank you for using your time, your talents, your resources to tell me about the Savior.” And oh, how I want to hear from the lips of the King of Glory, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (See Matthew 25:21).